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Air Force band musical goes Hollywood

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alex Saltekoff
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Band from Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., performed its musical “Born of a Dream” before full houses Nov. 18 to 20 at the Kodak Theatre here.

All of the 2,500 free seats were reserved before the start of the first performance. The band’s final performance Nov. 20 was a private show for the annual Gathering of Eagles, which honors several veterans of aviation.

The Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards are annually held, housed the band’s first Broadway-class musical celebrating 100 years of powered flight.

“Born of a Dream” was written by and starred band airmen. The musical followed Tech. Sgt. Steve Wilson as news reporter “Scott Gibson” during his travels to the fictitious town of Wrightsville to cover a Centennial of Flight celebration.

In the musical, Gibson met several people and ultimately learned the value of flight. Songs in the production reflected the history of flight and offered several selections from various genres of music. “The Greatest” was a jazzy, 1940s-style song about the exploits of Gen. James “Jimmy” Doolittle and Col. Francis “Gabby” Gabreski. There was even a “rap” song about a current fictitious fighter pilot being the greatest.

There were several moments when the elderly test pilot trio, played by the not-so-elderly Tech. Sgts. Matthew Irish, Bradley Bennett and K.C. Armstrong, break into a fast-paced rock song complete with running and sliding, only to feel their age again when the song is over.

Tech. Sgt. Chris Harris and Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Wolfe performed a duet about a prisoner of war in Vietnam being separated from his wife. Master Sgt. Shani Prewitt performed a solo about her character’s grandfather fighting for the opportunity to serve in World War II as a Tuskegee Airman.

Retired Maj. Gen. John Brooks; Col. Dennis Layendecker, U.S. Air Force Band commander; and Senior Master Sgt. Larry MacTaggert conceived “Born of a Dream” more than a year ago. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper approached them for a new project honoring Centennial of Flight.

Brooks and Layendecker created an original musical celebrating 100 years of powered flight.

“It’s a challenge trying to get your arms around 100 years of flight,” Brooks said. “With this story, we had to find a (way) to bring some of the emotion and triumphs of aviation.”

With the help of MacTaggert’s idea to base the musical on a Centennial of Flight carnival, Brooks, Layendecker and MacTaggert joined Capts. Chad Steffey and Donald Schofield Jr., to write the script.

Brooks said there were two things they were trying to use to keep the story moving: the evolution of aviation and the recognition of the significance.

“This is new territory for the Air Force band,” MacTaggert said. “We haven’t done anything like this in the history of the group."